Meet the Author: Victorine by Drēma Drudge

Today we travel to Indiana in the Midwest of the United States to chat with Drēma Drudge about how corn, cows, hummingbirds, writing outdoors, a sombrero wearing penguin, journal writing, and the Indiana Dunes are a part of Drēma’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Drēma Drudge, author of the newly released novel, Victorine, about Victorine Meurent, the artist Édouard Manet’s favorite model who, history has forgotten, was also an artist. My musician and writer husband, Barry, and I live in Indiana in the United States. That’s in the Midwest, for those who aren’t familiar with it, the land of corn, cows, and us. We host a podcast, Writing All the Things.

In which genre do you write?

I write literary fiction, though my debut novel is also historical fiction.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

Maybe a hummingbird, because I love to flit from idea to idea. My curiosity knows no bounds. Hummingbirds are beautiful, glistening, and yet if you don’t watch carefully, they are there and gone. Maybe as a person I’m a bit that way – I want to talk, but I also want to be off writing my next book. And, too, I probably flap my wings just as fast trying to stay airborne with my newest idea until I realize what it is I’m trying to say!

What does your ideal writing space look like?

On days when it’s warm enough, I go to our local café and write outdoors on their lovely porch all afternoon. Not only do I get visited by the café’s patrons, but by squirrels, birds, and a whole host of nature’s lovelies like butterflies and beautiful, fat bumble bees while being surrounded by the season’s flowers.

If you could have a coffee date with a famous person from the past, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I’d love to have coffee with Victorine Meurent, the main character of my novel. Since she was a real person, I’d ask her if I even came close to getting her story right – she’s someone who, because she was a woman and from a poor family in the mid-19th century in Paris, we don’t know lots about. Mostly what we know of her comes from the paintings others – men – did of her.

I’d ask why she went to art school, and how long she had wanted to. Was there one particular thing that drove her to it?

Until the past few years, it was believed that only one of her own paintings had survived. Now we know of four, most importantly, her self-portrait. What a triumph, getting to see how a woman who was painted dozens of times by men saw herself.

Her work was shown in the prestigious Paris Salon six times, and all history typically remembers her for is being a model. I would like to ask her how she feels about that, and if I’ve done enough to bring her back to life.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve experienced to help create a scene or plot?

While my husband and I were in Paris, we stood in front of Manet’s painting of Victorine as Olympia, and I felt like there was more she wanted to say, but I couldn’t hear what. There was something strange with the model’s nose. I started crying, and then a tour group came by and the guide spoke about the painting. She said the one thing that explained what I was feeling: she claimed Victorine had dated a boxer who had messed up her nose, and it sent me off on this journey to write about Victorine. (Interestingly enough, I never found proof about that story, but it set me to researching her, so it did what it was intended to do, I suppose.)

Do you journal write? Has this helped with your published writings? 

I journal often. Not every day, but every few days, at least. It helps me to empty my mind of the tedious and everyday and prepares me for creating. I wish I wrote erudite, meaningful journal entries, but I don’t. My journals would be worthless to anyone but me.

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

I think the penguin would take me by the hand and tell me it’s time for an amazing adventure. He’d say “Let’s go,” and we would waddle down the street, stopping to say hello to everyone. At the end, what I’d discover is that everything I’m writing about is alive, too, is out there, in one way or another, and my penguin friend was sent to invite me to enjoy the real world, which, too often, writing can cause one to forget.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

I adore the Indiana Dunes. Going there is like visiting the ocean, though it’s really on Lake Michigan. I can relax there in a way I can’t anywhere else. My mind gets to recover there, something it doesn’t often do, because it races all the time, seeking writing material. But at the beach I sit (or collect shells and stones, or climb the dunes) and I may read or I may not. I may just sprawl on my towel and forget about everything, or I may have a deep, philosophical conversation with my husband about literature, about life. Or maybe we buy chocolate-covered bananas and flip through magazines. It’s pure paradise to me.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My debut novel, Victorine, features Victorine Meurent, a forgotten, accomplished painter who posed nude for Edouard Manet’s most famous, controversial paintings such as Olympia and The Picnic in Paris, paintings heralded as the beginning of modern art. History has forgotten (until now) her paintings, despite the fact that she showed her work at the prestigious Paris Salon multiple times, even one year when her mentor, Manet’s, work was refused.

Her persistent desire in the novel is not to be a model anymore but to be a painter herself, despite being taken advantage of by those in the art world, something which causes her to turn, for a time, to every vice in the Paris underworld, leading her even into the catacombs.

In order to live authentically, she eventually finds the strength to flout the expectations of her parents, bourgeois society, and the dominant male artists (whom she knows personally) while never losing her capacity for affection, kindness, and loyalty. Possessing both the incisive mind of a critic and the intuitive and unconventional impulses of an artist, Victorine and her survival instincts are tested in 1870, when the Prussian army lays siege to Paris and rat becomes a culinary delicacy, and further tested when she inches towards art school while financial setbacks push her away from it. The same can be said when it comes to her and love, which becomes substituted, eventually, by art.

The best place for people to learn more about my writing, about art history and news, is through my mailing list. Sign up on my website at: www.dremadrudge.com. When you do, I’ll send you a free historical fiction story.

Thank you for being a part of MTA, Drēma. It was wonderful to learn more about you and how Victorine came to be. The Indiana Dunes sound beautiful and wonderful. I think I’m going to add that to my bucket list! All the best to you! – Camilla

Victorine is a compelling rendering of the life of a model working for Edouard Manet in the 1860s, who longed to be a painter in her own right. In this book, you will feel paint flow onto the canvases of Manet, Monet, Degas, Morisot, Stevens, Meurent, and others. You will imagine life on the streets of Paris in all its beauty, harshness, and fragility. And you will see a relationship between painter and model unfold with remarkable clarity and sensitivity. Victorine Meurent s body is the vehicle for Manet s artistic vision, while her robust courage, irreverence and honesty, and her longing for her own agency, shapes the painter s vision. The intimate collaboration between two artists creates life-changing revelations on both sides this dance of color and light complicated, sensuous, and intense. –Eleanor Morse, author of White Dog Fell from the Sky

The model for great impressionist artist, Manet, the sassy, sexy, smart and artistic Victorine is as vivid as his best paintings. Yearning to paint herself, she questions Manet and his artist friends closely annoyingly about what they paint and how they paint it, treating the reader to a sequence of fascinating exchanges about art, its creation and demands. In a gallery of episodes, narrated in the gaudy, evocative voice of the protagonist, author Drema Drudge renders Victorine Meurent from flesh to soul. Applying bold strokes of language, Drudge animates the story of a life lived at high intensity sparkling, inventive, imaginative, ambitious a totally original life. You can t help but love them both. –Julie Brickman, author of Two Deserts and What Birds Can Only Whisper

Book trailer:

https://animoto.com/play/tygbwF6hU7OSTakpSLHMEw

Connect with Drēma:

Facebook: The Painted Word Salon

Twitter: @dremadrudge

Instagram: Drema Drudge

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Meet the Author: The Roommates by Rachel Sargeant

Today we travel to Gloucestershire, England to chat with Rachel Sargeant about how a fortune teller, mother-and-baby group days, riding a bicycle, speaking German, life in student halls, swimming, coffee shops, going to the theatre, and Captain Hastings are a part of Rachel’s current and past life.

Tell us about yourself.

Hello, Camilla. Thank you for inviting me to Meeting the Authors. My name is Rachel Sargeant and I’m a full-time author, living in Gloucestershire, England. Brought up in Lincolnshire, I have also lived in London, Shropshire, Germany and Wales and like to feature places I know in my writing. My psychological thrillers are published by HarperCollins and I also have a police procedural published by them. My historical fiction title, based on the 1915 Gallipoli diary of my husband’s grandmother, is self-published.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

Right from the reception year at primary school, writing was my favourite school activity. But I drifted away from it in my teenage years when I had to do homework and exams. Twenty years ago I returned to it for the craziest reason. For a bit of fun at a party, I had my palm read by the fortune teller who had been hired in to provide entertainment. She was most insistent that I give writing a go – so I did. The very first short story I wrote won Writing Magazine’s Annual Crime Short Story Competition. That palm reader knew her stuff!

What are you currently reading?

The Mothers by Sarah J. Naughton. This book takes me back to my mother-and-baby group days. How I used to envy the yummy mummies with their immaculate clothes and sleeping-through-the-night babies. This story is about five such mummies. As the story progresses and we see something of their home lives over a three-year period, it turns out that maybe they’re not so yummy after all. When one of the husbands disappears, we smell something decidedly off among the Yankee candles and aromatic supper parties.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I can’t ride a bike.

I have practically no sense of direction.

Oh dear, those two facts are quite negative, aren’t they? A positive one is that I speak German. Sort of.

Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?

I got the idea for The Roommates when I started attending university open days with my children. The atmosphere of my student days came flooding back and I decided a university campus would make a great setting for a novel. My son and daughter ended up having a brilliant time at their chosen university and they had hilarious tales to tell of life in student halls. However, because I’m a psychological thriller writer, I saw real potential in a dark and twisting story that featured lead characters who were away from home for the first time.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I love swimming, visiting coffee shops and going to the theatre.

If you could have a coffee date with an author or famous person from the past, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Captain Hastings, the great chum of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, would be my guest for afternoon coffee. I’m hopeless at small talk so wouldn’t know what to ask him, but I suspect he would be a great raconteur with tales to tell of his travels in South America and of his exploits with Hercule. I could just sip my drink and listen.

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do?

I’d love to be Tegan from The Roommates. She’s witty, feisty, entrepreneurial and she has fabulous hair. I’d spend the day bombing about in her open top Mini Sport.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

The last time I went to the cinema was on my daughter’s birthday to see Daniel Radcliffe in The Woman in Black. As that was several years ago, it’s fair to say I’m not a big movie buff. However, now that the cinemas are in lockdown, I really want to go again and will make it a priority when next we have the chance. There are so many things I hope never to take for granted again.

What’s your favourite place to visit in your country and why?

The British seaside on a summer’s day. Sunshine, beach and ice cream. Perfect.

Tell us about your most recent book.

The Roommates is a psychological thriller set on a fictional British university campus during freshers’ week. Four new students, each hiding a secret from their past, find themselves sharing a flat. When one of them suddenly disappears, the others must trust each other and work together to find out what has happened. Little do they realise the danger ahead.

It was wonderful to have you on MTA and to learn more about you and your writing style. I love that you returned to writing due to a fortune teller reading your palm. That’s pretty wild! All the best to you, Rachel. – Camilla

Back cover copy:

THEY LIVE IN YOUR HOUSE
University is supposed to be the best time of your life. But Imo’s first week is quickly going from bad to worse.

YOU SHARE EVERYTHING
A stalker is watching her flat, following her every move, and Imo suspects that her new roommates are hiding dark secrets…

BUT DO YOU TRUST THEM?
When one of them suddenly disappears, the trauma of Imo’s recent past comes hurtling back to haunt her. And she begins to realise just how little she knows about the people she lives with…

FOUR ROOMMATES. FOUR SECRETS. ONE DEVASTATING LIE.

Where to find the book:

The Roommates is available in paperback to order from all good bookshops and in ebook from all platforms, including Amazon.

Links to Rachel’s Books:

The Roommates – https://bit.ly/TheRoommatesRS

The Good Teacher – https://bit.ly/TheGoodTeacherRS

The Perfect Neighbours – https://bit.ly/ThePerfectNeighboursRS

Gallipoli: Year of Love and Duty – https://bit.ly/GallipoliRS

Connect with Rachel:

Website – https://www.rachelsargeant.co.uk/

BookBub – https://bit.ly/RachelSargeantBookBubfollow

Twitter – https://twitter.com/RachelSargeant3

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/rachelsargeantauthor/

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host

Meet the Author: The Lilith Trilogy by Kim ten Tusscher

Today we travel to Enschede, a small city in the Netherlands, to chat with Kim ten Tusscher about how traveling, nature, the Northern Lights, the Narrows in Zion National Park, dog sledding, a costume designer, being a go-getter, and trusting her inner voice fit into the plot of Kim’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi, my name is Kim ten Tusscher. I’m a writer from the Netherlands. I
live in Enschede, a small city near the German border. I’m going to tell
you more about my stories in the following questions, but before that,
let me tell you some other interesting things about myself.

I love to travel and explore. I’m most happy when I’m camping surrounded by beautiful nature. I have slept near a thunderous waterfall, my tent was almost taken down by deer and I’ve camped in places where you can only see a faint light in the distance. I have been husky sledding and seen the Northern Lights. I’m so fortunate that I’m able to do that. And the best part is, I can use all these things in my stories. Lilith goes dog sledding, other characters hike like I did the Narrows in Zion National Park and sometimes I just smell the Icelandic sulfur when I write. Am I weird that I like that smell?

I grew up in a family with two elder brothers. I remember us all sitting
around the dinner table when we were younger. Doing all kinds of things: drawing, making puppets out of clay, painting. I still do those things when I find the time.

Also nice to mention: I have been involved in several movies and series as a prop and costume maker. I made flags for Born of Hope, costumes for Ren – The Girl with the Mark and for A Royal Love. I love the movie world, but not as much as I love writing. That’s why I never went on building a career as a costume designer.

This love for costumes, movies, and stories came together when a friend and I started Hunter’s Prey. She is the singer of a band and wrote a song for a story of mine. We started a crowdfunding campaign and made an epic video clip. You can watch the end result here:

In which genre do you write?

I write epic fantasy. I like my stories to be a bit dark. You might have
a clue who is the hero and who is the villain when you start the story,
but I assure you that will change when you learn more about my
characters. The line between good and evil gets very blurry.

How many published books do you have? What are you currently working on?

I have published nine books so far. Four of them have been translated
into English: City of Illusions (a stand-alone) and the Lilith trilogy.
My translator is currently working on book number five: Blood. That is
the first part of The Tales of the Downfall. It will be released later
this year.

At the same time, I’m working very hard to meet the deadline for my
tenth book. It’s called Storm, which means exactly the same in Dutch as it does in English. It is the final part of the Tales of the Downfall.

Where did the idea for The Tales of the Downfall come from?

Soon after I finished the Lilith trilogy back in 2012 the fans asked me
if I was going to write another story about Lilith. At first, I said I
would never do that. I liked the fact that the readers could have their
own ideas about how her future would be. And I was already invested in another story at that time.

But the fans kept asking me that same question again and again for
years. I finished the series I was working on and started to think: What
would have happened to Lilith? How can I continue her story? And so the ideas came and I started writing this new series with her as the main character.

It was an awesome decision. This story has so much depth and has learned me so much more about the world I created. It’s a tale about war and deceit and despair, but also about hope and working together and looking past prejudice. I’m writing the final chapters at the moment and I’m having so much fun with it.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

You might have heard about plotters or pantsers? Plotters think through the whole story before they start writing, pantsers make up the story as they go along.

I’m somewhere in the middle. I called myself a traveler once. When I go
on vacation, I always prepare. I look up things worth visiting, make a
travel plan, pack cloths fit for what I think I will encounter. But my
trips never go as planned. I will see the highlights and will arrive at
the final destination in time. But between start and finish, I get
distracted. The weather is different than I imagined so I have to change the plans, I find a path that looks very promising and I want to follow. And some attractions may be closed.

This is how I write. I start with a plan, but some things just don’t
work out the way I thought they would. Other paths are way more
interesting and the local people (my characters) are not who I thought
they would be. I explore the story the same way I would explore a new
place. With expectations, but open-minded to better opportunities.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

I have always been keen to prove to myself and the world that I can
achieve things. I am a go-getter, I think it’s called in English. I know
what I want and I won’t stop until I reach that goal.

It’s a trait that is very useful for a writer. Writing is lonely and it
takes a long time to finish a story. Especially before your work is
published you have to have a clear picture of what you want to achieve.
If not, it’s easy to get distracted and not finish.

You have to give up many things to meet your deadlines. When I’m finishing a story, I’m not very social for the people in my surroundings. At those times there is only one thing I’m doing: writing. And I even gave up a steady income to improve my skills to succeed as a writer. I do believe I have it in me to do this.

This may sound like I am overconfident, but I am not. There are many times I doubt all my decisions. I suffer from imposter syndrome like most people who create things. But my go-get attitude prevents me from giving up.

What advice would your more mature self give to your young self?

Trust your inner voice. I have been paying too much attention to people who I thought would know how to do things. People who said I should be using a pen name. That you have to plot a story because that’s how to write a cohesive one. That you have to write short stories first to learn the craft. I could come up with more examples.

But I can’t plot, I can’t write short stories and I wanted to publish under my own name. And all these so-called good bits of advice put doubt in my heart. Was I really doing it right?

Well, with ten books written and published and many fans I know I am doing something right. In hindsight, all these doubts did cost me a lot of energy. Energy that I should have directed towards something more constructive.

I would want to say to me (and to you): believe that you know how things work for you and what is the right path for you. This is your path to walk and not somebody else’s. It’s a good thing to have mentors, but be picky.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I would invite Robin Hobb to a tea date. I really admire her writing skills and love the characters she created. I read her books when I’m in the final stages of my own stories and during editing. Her stories are packed with details without becoming boring. I sometimes skip too much. So reading her work while editing my own, gives my stories the right balance of what to describe and what to leave out.

What would I ask? I’m not sure I would be able to ask anything. Big chance I would be star struck and I even might run.

Actually, I met Robin Hobb once. It was on a fantasy festival in the Netherlands and if it wasn’t for a colleague writer, I wouldn’t have been brave enough to go to her. But my colleague knew I wanted to thank her for the inspiration she gave me and the lessons I learned while reading her books, so he dragged me to her table. I gave her one of my own books as a present and we exchanged a few words. She is such a lovely person, so if I can get my nerves under control, it will be an awesome tea date.

Tell us about your most recent book you’ve published.

My most recent story in English is the Lilith trilogy (Bound in Darkness, Broken in Twilight and Born in Light). It is the story of Lilith, a Dragon shape shifter. She was kidnapped when she was a baby and given to a sorcerer to use in the war he is fighting. I think you can understand what damage a fire breathing dragon can cause. Lilith has burned down cities and villages for years and killed thousands of people. The story starts when she decides to run away. She dreams of a peaceful future. To achieve that, she has to defeat her master. But if she does, she may end the world…

When I started to write about Lilith I wanted to create a story without the typical good versus evil plot I see in many fantasy books. Don’t get me wrong, I love to read a good hero story from time to time, but as a writer, I’m not interested in flawless protagonists and evil villains. I love to explore the greyness that everybody has inside them. In the right – or should I say wrong? – circumstances everybody is able to do horrible things and even the villain tries to save his world. The conflict is where their personal goals clash.

Lilith’s story is one of trust and finding your own path in life. Of still seeing the good, when everything goes dark. Standing up for yourself is often the bravest thing you can do. So will Lilith succeed and at what costs?

Did I make you curious?

It was wonderful to have you be a part of MTA! I absolutely adored our interview, Kim. I’m also a go-getter who lets the imposter syndrome sneak into my thoughts a bit too often. I’ve befriended it though, not letting it slow me down. I have two friends who live in the Netherlands and it’s on my bucket list to visit some day. Wishing you all the best! – Camilla

Book blurb:

Being trained as a lethal weapon isn’t enough to stay safe… Lilith needs to be stronger than a dragon to escape.

In a world torn apart by battle, being the only dragon shape shifter known to mankind should be an advantage. But in the hands of a cruel sorcerer, Lilith lives her life in terror. She is scarred by the war she is forced to fight and haunted by the thousands she has burned to death.

But even her deepest fears aren’t enough to keep Lilith in her cage.

Being hunt down by the uncompromising Kasimirh and his followers, Lilith tries to build a new life in hiding. If she fails to stay out of their hands, they’ll return her to a life of terror.

But if she defeats them, the consequences could be even worse… The whole world might come to an end.

Kim ten Tusscher’s books are renowned for the rich characters and the twisted plot. You’ll love this epic fantasy series by one of the best dark fantasy authors of the Netherlands. Click the BUY button and get your copy of this exciting, fast-paced story now!

Where to find the books:

You can find the books on Amazon and in Kindle
Unlimited.

Book Trailer:

Connect with Kim:

website: https://kimtentusscher.com/en.php

social media links:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/554104335409940/
https://www.facebook.com/kimttee/ 
https://www.instagram.com/kimtentusscher/

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host

Meet the Author: Wishes Under a Starlit Sky by Lucy Knott

Today we travel to Manchester, England to chat with Lucy Knott about how being a professional wrestler, Jack Kerouac, being a twin, Johnny Depp, learning Italian, Harry Styles, dance parties for one, and Hulk Hogan come together as part of Lucy’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Lucy Knott. I am a former professional wrestler turned Author. It’s just me in my cosy little house in Manchester, England, where you will most likely find me hugging books, drinking lots of coffee and occasionally indulging in a little dance party for one while I whip up recipes from my Nanna and Grandad’s cookbook. Along with my twin sister, Kelly, we run theblossomtwins.com where you can find book reviews each and every week, in addition to lots of delicious Italian family recipes.

How many published books do you have?

I have had three books published with HQ Digital UK. Those being ‘How to Bake a new Beginning’, ‘The Ingredients for Happiness’ and ‘Wishes under a Starlit Sky’.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I’ve always loved reading and writing and enjoyed scribbling in notebooks as a kid. I adored the likes of Harry Potter and was very much a book worm growing up. However, I read Jack Kerouac’s book ‘On the Road’ when I was sixteen, because I was going through a Johnny Depp phase and he happened to mention it, and I fell in love with the book and built up a fascination with the Beat Generation and Kerouac’s love for and style of writing.

From that moment I dreamt of being able to write like him and absorbed many of his other books. It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties though that I actually sat down to write. I was in a really happy place in my life and was consuming some wonderful romantic books by the likes of Rebecca Raisin and Holly Martin. I’d had an idea brewing for a while and decided that I would put pen to paper and see what I could do.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I am a teaching assistant which keeps me busy. I’m always thinking of ideas and activities for the kids and planning for the next day. But 7 days a week I am up at 5am to get my writing in, which I love, and then my evenings are usually spent learning Italian, hanging out with my family, cooking and reading or creating crafts for work. Ooh and I do love watching movies too.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

This is where I get excited and have to roll out my giant list and be naughty, cheat and not pick just one…

Author from the past would be Jack Kerouac or Louisa May Alcott. That would be a dream. I have so many questions and feel both conversations would be rather splendid in completely different ways. I think I’d just want to sit and listen to Jack talk and try and figure out how his brain works and Louisa May Alcott, arrgh, I wouldn’t know where to begin.

Author from the present would be Maxine Morrey as I’d very much like to pick her brain on how she writes the most beautiful, kick ass leading ladies and the most lovely men.

Famous people would be Harry Styles. I have a bunch of questions about the differences and similarities between writing books and writing songs that I would love to ask him.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

I guess it’s not so much of a surprise but really one of the biggest things I’ve learnt, and continue to learn through writing, is that no matter how much my mind tells me I can’t do it, or when I have days where I want to cry and think I’m rubbish, or even when I feel overwhelmed with edits, I actually can do it and I can get through it. It might seem silly or maybe a little obvious but sometimes I’ll sit and stare at my books and think ‘oh wow, I did it’ and I have to remind myself of that occasionally. I think it’s a great lesson for anything in life too.

What is the most crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

My twin sister, Kelly, and I were professional wrestlers for thirteen years. We had a lot of crazy things happen during that time but I feel one of the craziest/inspiring things was getting to work with Hulk Hogan on TNA British Bootcamp. We had a lot of pinch me moments where we were like ‘Hulk Hogan is watching us wrestle right now and giving us advice’. We also met our childhood hero Jeff Hardy and that was an incredibly inspiring moment too, one that my sixteen year old self will forever be grateful for.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your books. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?

Right now it would most likely be Harry Styles ‘Adore You’ or ‘Treat People with Kindness’ just because those songs make me happy and get me dancing and feeling positive. I love it when songs just make you feel confident and giddy on life.

If I was being specific to my books maybe for ‘How to Bake a new Beginning’ and ‘The Ingredients for Happiness’ I would put on some Fedez, how about ‘L’Italia per me’. I played that song for my Nanna sometime last year and she smiled listening to it. As both those books are based around an Italian family, I think that song would be perfect while at the same time it would probably make me cry.

For ‘Wishes under a Starlit Sky’ lets have some Little Mix, either ‘Shout out to my ex’ or Breakup song’ to get a little girl power going.

At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?

Probably to remember that there was a time when I was thirteen years old where I believed whole heartedly in becoming a professional wrestler and that I went for it without worrying so much about what if’s or that I might not be able do it. I think somewhere along the way to adulthood, all these doubts creep in and we let fear take over when we should remember that we still have the capability of achieving our dreams no matter how big or small. No dream seems too silly or far fetched when we are kids and I always want to hold on to that as an adult.

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do? If you write non-fiction or memories, what fictional character would you invite into your story and why?

I think it would be fun to be Sabrina from ‘How to Bake a new Beginning’ and ‘The Ingredients for Happiness’ for a day because she is the manager of Rock band ‘San Francisco Beat’ and I think it would be quite cool to step into that world and see how it all works. Maybe I could swap places with her while they’re recording their album so I can see what goes into writing, recording and producing a song. Plus, she has the cutest wardrobe filled with skater dresses in the most wonderful and beautiful pastel colours.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

I watched ‘Shazam’ because I think the last time I watched it was around New Year and that was so long ago now. It’s one of my favourites. I just love it so much and was having a day where I needed to smile! ?

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

I do, but in the sense that you have to create the reason, if that makes sense? Some people go through such incredible pain and hardships that I wouldn’t wish to simply dismiss that with an ‘It happened for a reason’. Sometimes life can be so cruel that you just don’t want to believe in any reason for why something so bad happened. But I believe that we can create the reason over time as a way of coming to terms with things and moving forward.

One of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through was my Grandad passing away. My sister and I were living in America at the time. We had been home for Christmas and had planned another visit home in the August. We were four days away from that return trip and our worlds crumbled. Unfortunately the way we found out wasn’t the best due to receiving messages of condolences from family who didn’t realize the time difference and we were in the middle of work. Our parents and little sister didn’t get the chance to prepare us and it was utterly shattering for everyone. Being on a plane flying home knowing that he wasn’t going to be there was one of the most painful experiences I’ve been through.

I have days now, nearly three years later, where I am mad, angry and just want to scream at how it all happened. He was my world and not getting to hug him one more time or say good bye still haunts me, but the only way I can think to get through it is believing that he was giving me a lesson in strength. One of my biggest fears while living in America was something happening to my family and me not being able to get to them. I have now faced one of my biggest fears in life and I am still here and still smiling.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My most recent book is ‘Wishes under a Starlit Sky’ and it’s about script writer Harper Hayes who, after finding out her husband is having an affair, sets about re-writing her own story. She takes a trip with her best friend Madi to see her parents in Colorado where she experiences lots of wonderful adventures and lessons in self-love.

It was wonderful to have you on MTA, Lucy! I love having dance parties for one! It’s my go to feel good time, and what I do when I can’t get out for a walk. I’m fascinated by your past as a professional wrestler. WOW! Wishing you all the best and continued success! – Camilla

Where we can find the books:

It’s available now on Amazon, WHSmiths, Kobo, Waterstones and HarperCollins too.

Connect with Lucy:

Twitter: @theblossomtwins
@LucyCKnott

Instagram: theblossomtwins
LucyCKnott

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Meet the Author: Nightmare Asylum and Other Deadly Delights by Sonia Kilvington

Today we travel to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus to chat with Sonia Kilvington about how becoming a journalist, teaching ESL, being accused of stealing, and The Invisible Man come together as part of Sonia’s past and present life.

In which genre do you write?

I write in many different genres as I like to challenge myself, and I don’t want my writing to be predictable. I began writing murder mysteries and have two books with a detective, who moved out to Cyprus at the same time as I did! Over the last couple of years, I have concentrated upon writing short stories, in noir, crime, psychological horror and a couple of ghost stories. To push my boundaries, I decided to write a science fiction story, and I came up with the idea of infusing human emotions into a ‘companion android’ who would not have the emotional intelligence to control or understand them. The story is called ‘Perfect Love,’ and it’s the best thing I ever have written. Its included in my short story collection; Nightmare Asylum & Other Deadly Delights.

Can you tell me something interesting about your career path – were you always a writer?

I became a journalist by accident after moving to Cyprus. I submitted a couple of poems and a short story to two local magazines, both of whom contacted me and asked me to write articles, features and do interviews for them. It wasn’t paid work, but there were some nice perks, and I learnt a lot about how to structure ‘real’ stories and features. I eventually moved on to write for a business magazine and a gorgeous Russian glossy based in Limassol, as a staff journalist. After the financial crash, all of the magazines closed and I worked freelance for quite a while, before finding a passion for teaching ESL to Chinese children online; which is a job that I am currently enjoying.

Has the Covid19 virus changed the way you work?

The children that I teach have been trapped inside their apartments for months. Most of them are tired and bored, and they complain about getting too much homework from their online schools. Sometimes they can be a little boisterous as they cannot run-around outside to burn off any excess energy. I have been teaching most of them for two years; bonds have been made, and I feel privileged to watch them grow up and be a small part of their lives. With the current situation, I try to be more patient and tolerant. I attempt to keep the lessons light and fun. The Chinese company that I work for has been very good to me. I enjoy working with people from other cultures, as there is always something new and different to learn. I think this keeps me sharp and more connected to the world, which, in turn, improves my writing.

What is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you?

When I was at university, I used to dream about being a writer and would write at home, not daring to show my work to anyone as I suspected I didn’t have much talent or many skills. One day in a literature class, we were asked to copy the style of a war poet, write a line and read it out loud. When my turn came to speak, the lecturer, whom I didn’t like at all, glared at me and said, “You stole that, I’m sure it’s from somewhere… but I can’t quite place it.” I was mortified to be accused of cheating until I realized – she can’t tell the difference, and she has studied this poet for years… It was a weird, light bulb moment, as a sneaky little voice whispered into my ear “what if you really can write?”

Which of your personality traits has been most useful, and why?

My husband says I am dogged; I don’t give up trying, because I find it difficult to let go of things even if they are not working. It’s a blessing and a curse.

At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?

Never lose your sense of fun, or give up on your dreams.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

I watched the new version of ‘The Invisible Man’. It was 5 a.m., and I was wide awake, looking for something to do. I really enjoyed the old black and white version with the guy swathed in bandages, wearing dark glasses. It’s a great story, so I thought I’d watch the new movie starring Elizabeth Moss. I love her acting in the ‘Handmaid’s Tale,’ as her character June/Offred, uses cunning and ingenuity to survive. Miss Moss has a lovely face, but she is never ashamed of looking ugly or evil, and there is no thought, fear or idea that she seems afraid to communicate. She excels in playing characters which are simultaneously a victim and an aggressor, and I enjoy the dramatic tension this brings to her performances. It’s something I have tried to recreate in the characters in my own stories, especially ‘Women’s Work.’ Modern technology has moved on dramatically since the first movie came out, and this hi-tech version didn’t disappoint.

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why.

I wouldn’t want to be any of my characters in Nightmare Asylum, as they don’t have an easy time of it! Although, I’m part of those characters, as they all contain elements of me and my experience; but in disguise.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

People always say the same thing about my writing – I would never have dreamt that you wrote that, as it’s so unlike you. In real life, I try to be a positive person and help others when I can. I don’t really know where the dark stories come from, but I have learnt that the nightmares must be a part of me. My story Nightmare Asylum is based on a reoccurring dream that I had in my twenties. I combined it with my belief in the paranormal, to make something I hope is quite frightening. It certainly frightened me…

What’s your favourite place to visit in your country and why?

I love to visit Polis in my home for the holidays. It’s a beautiful place and we have found a nice secluded hotel where they make their own jam and preserves. There is no entertainment so, it’s a quiet place to write, and if you do manage to be awake at 5 a.m., you can go to the beach and watch the baby turtles hatch and tear along the sand, throwing themselves recklessly, headlong into the tide. It’s a wonderful experience to watch.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My most recent book is an eclectic collection of short stories, ‘Nightmare Asylum & Other Deadly Delights.

It was wonderful to have you on MTA and to learn more about you and your writings. Wishing you all the best Sonia! – Camilla

Nightmare Asylum – Despised by day, tortured by night.

A midwifery student’s life disintegrates into a terrifying nightmare, after a disturbing encounter with the notorious child killer, Evelyn Green. Dark secrets from Lydia’s past unleash a truth that conjures her fears into unspeakable horror.

Other Deadly Delights – Tales from the psychotically unsound and deadly deluded.

A stalker turns serial killer; a cleaning lady is imprisoned in the basement, there’s a prophetic warning for a woman in peril, and an android with love addiction, plus many more… a deliciously dangerous collection of short stories, ranging from psychological horror to paranormal, sci-fi and noir.

Dare you enter the nightmare Asylum?

Where we can find it:

It’s available on Amazon in kindle and paperback versions, although I am still dreaming of an audiobook…

Amazon.co.uk https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nightmare-Asylum-other-Deadly-Delights-ebook/dp/B083R5YMX2/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=Nightmare+Asylum&qid=1578909796&s=books&sr=1-5

Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/Nightmare-Asylum-other-Deadly-Delights-ebook/dp/B083R5YMX2/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=nightmare+asylum&qid=1578910007&s=books&sr=1-5

More about Sonia:

Sonia Kilvington is a journalist and fiction writer from the beautiful Mediterranean island of Cyprus. She has published many articles, travel features, short stories and interviews in glossy magazines. She loves to write dark and disturbing short stories in genres such as noir, crime, ghost and Sci-fi. Her online writing credits include Out of the Gutter Online, Spelk fiction, Pulp Metal Magazine & Near to the Knuckle. Her new short story collection, Nightmare Asylum & Other Deadly Delights – published by Close To The Bone, is available on Amazon.

Connect with Sonia:

Website: https://soniakilvingtonwriter.com/

Amazon author page https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sonia-Kilvington/e/B005FDXFQS/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

FB writer’s page: https://www.facebook.com/soniafiction/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Soniacyprus (@Soniacyprus)

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/sonia-kilvington-26b2b721/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/soniakilvington/?hl=en

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4898959.Sonia_Kilvington

Contact email: [email protected]

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Meet the Author: The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw

Today we travel to the east of Scotland, near Edinburgh, to chat with Charlie Laidlaw to discuss how the University of Edinburgh, Eddie Calvert, being a street actor, visiting 19 countries, becoming a journalist, having thick skin, Charles Dickens, and a swimming pool each play a role in Charlie’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault. That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father. That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste.

​I was brought up in the west of Scotland and graduated from the University of Edinburgh. I still have the scroll, but it’s in Latin, so it could say anything.

I then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist. I started in Glasgow and ended up in London, covering news, features and politics.

I then took a year to travel round the world, visiting 19 countries, after which, surprisingly, I was approached by a government agency to work in intelligence, which just shows how shoddy government recruitment was back then. However, it turned out to be very boring and I don’t like vodka martini.

​Craving excitement and adventure, I ended up as a PR consultant, which is the fate of all journalists who haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, and I’ve still to listen to Oh, Mein Papa.

​I am married with two grown-up children and live in east of Scotland near Edinburgh. And that’s about it.

In which genre do you write?

Literary fiction.

How many published books do you have?

Three – The Things We Learn When We’re Dead, The Space Between Time and Love Potions and Other Calamities.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I’ve always been a writer, from primary school. I wrote my first “novel” in my early teens and, by the time I was 21, I had written three more. All were gibberish. But I then became a journalist and learned how to write lucidly. Writing is a trade, and you have to learn it…there are no short-cuts.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

My actual writing space looks exactly like a desk, with a computer on it, because that’s what it is. My ideal writing space would involve lots of sun and a swimming pool.

What are you currently reading?

The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris, the fourth in the Chocolat series. It’s a masterclass in descriptive writing, and told through multiple first-person narrators.

Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?

I don’t know! I find that odd ideas come to me, and the trick is to figure out why they came to me, and how can I use them. Inspiration only ever comes in small chunks…you have to take that first idea and then ask “what comes next” over and over, until you have a plot and story for a book.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

Worrying about not writing or marketing my books. I do worry too much!

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

Writing is a deeply personal thing. It’s just you against a blank computer screen, and the blank screen often wins. But writing becomes very public when your book is published – and it can then be judged. The surprising thing I’ve learned is that I don’t much care if someone doesn’t like my book…I have a thick skin I didn’t know I had.

What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?

The final full stop. Writing a book is a lengthy marathon, and it’s always good to finish. In my case, I’m just finishing book four so will have that final full stop in the next few weeks…but then it’s back to editing, editing, editing!

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?

I don’t keep a journal or diary. My life is not interesting enough to write it down. But I do always have a notebook with me, even in bed, so I can write down even the smallest of ideas. Every budding writer should do the same, because an idea forgotten is a great novel lost.

What is the most crazy thing that has ever happened to you?

Being threatened by a man with a gun in Dubai, and being given an armed bodyguard by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation in Beirut (not the same person with a gun).

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

Why did you pee on the floor? Why did you pee against that chest of drawers? Why did you pee on that chair?

What are you currently working on?

A novel inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. My books are all, in their own way, about the choices we make and how that impacts on our future. A Christmas Carol sums that construct nicely.

Tell us about your most recent.

The Space Between Time follows Emma from childhood into adulthood. On the face of it, she appears to be the luckiest girl in the world. She’s the daughter of a beautiful and loving mother, and her father is one of the most famous film actors of his generation. She’s also the granddaughter of a rather eccentric and obscure Italian astrophysicist.

But her seemingly charmed life begins to unravel, and Emma experiences love and tragedy. Ultimately, she finds solace in her once-derided grandfather’s Theorem on the universe.

The Space Between Time is humorous and poignant and offers the metaphor that we are all connected, even to those we have loved and not quite lost.

It was great fun having you on MTA, Charlie. Thanks for adding some laughter to my day. I’m adding ‘The Space Between Time’ to my ‘to be read’ list. Sounds like a wonderful story! Wishing you all the best! – Camilla

My book can be found at:

All 3 books can be found at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=the+things+we+learn+when+we%27re+dead&crid=31ZWYTBBAWLMH&sprefix=the+things+we+learn%2Caps%2C145&ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_19

Connect with Charlie:

W: www.charlielaidlawauthor.com

T: @claidlawauthor

F: @charlielaidlawauthor

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Meet the Author: The Runaway by Linda Huber

Today we travel to Lake Constance in N.E. Switzerland to chat with Linda Huber about how being a physiotherapist, the Brownie Guide Book, a 1940’s drowning, the magic of childhood, cutting her own hair, and Agatha Christie play roles in Linda’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in Scotland, but came to Switzerland over half a lifetime ago intending to stay for a year – and here I still am. After working as a physiotherapist and then retraining as an English teacher after a back injury, I was lucky enough to be able to transform my hobby of the past thirty-odd years – writing – into my ‘job’. I’m hybrid published, with both traditionally and self-published books – nine psychological suspense novels as Linda Huber, all set in the UK, and five feel-good novellas set right here in Switzerland under my pen name Melinda Huber. Nowadays, I live on the banks of beautiful Lake Constance in N.E. Switzerland, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I can tell you that exactly: I was seven years old and in the Brownies, looking through the Brownie Guide Handbook for a first badge to do. I decided on the Writer’s Badge, wrote the required little story and thought, ‘Wow. This is cool. This is what I want to do.’ Long story short, I’ve never stopped.

Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?

If I tell you that I’ll be giving away the entire plot, so I’ll tell you about an older book, The Cold Cold Sea.

One day back in the late nineties, I started to research my family tree. This was before the internet was helpful with things like that, so first of all I wrote to various relatives asking for info. One of them, an elderly distant cousin, sent diagrams of several families on her branch of the tree. One showed a mother and father with three children. The first two children had names and dates, but the third name, Agnes, had one word beside it: drowned. I was dumbstruck. In the 1940s, a little girl in my family had died, and I’d never known she’d existed. Then I started to wonder… how do parents cope with a loss like that? How do they react, what do they tell the other children, how can their world carry on? Then I thought: what if they don’t cope? And that was the beginning of the idea for The Cold Cold Sea. (I found out later that Agnes had drowned at a swimming pool, aged eleven. Isn’t that tragic?)

What are you currently reading?

Ninety-nine per cent of the books I read are some form of crime fiction. However, at the moment I’m reading Helen Pryke’s Innocenti Saga, a trilogy about the fictional Innocenti family, all the way from the Great Plague to the modern day. It’s set in Italy and the UK, and it’s mesmerising.

What do you miss about being a kid?

The magic. The feeling that the world’s in front of you and anything is possible. The endless summer days with freedom to play. Knowing my parents would always take care of me. Santa Claus. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to go back, just for a day?

List three interesting facts about yourself.

1. I cut my own hair. (I bought a Flow-Bee decades ago to cut my kids’ hair. Neither would let me anywhere near them with it, but I started doing my own, and I haven’t been to a hairdresser for over twenty years now.)
2. I write my shopping list in a mixture of English and German, depending on what I’m thinking and who I’m with at the time.
3. I collect pottery sheep.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author from the past, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I would choose Agatha Christie, and I’d ask her how she came up with plots for the dozens of books she wrote. She must have been a phenomenally imaginitive woman; I’d love to be able to think like that!

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

Yesterday I watched an Agatha Christie film on TV, which is probably why I immediately thought about her for the last question. It was Evil Under The Sun, with Peter Ustinov. I’ve seen it already and think I watched it again for the distraction; at the time of writing we’re in week 3 of Corona lockdown here in Switzerland, and the world isn’t a happy place.

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

Our Shiva is sadly no longer here, but I would have LOVED to ask:
1. How come you’re always hungry?
2. Why is rolling in something totally disgusting the best idea ever?
3. What do we have to do to make you sleep an hour or so longer in the morning?

Tell us about your most recent book.

It’s The Runaway (psychological suspense). Nicola, her husband Ed and their fifteen-year-old daughter Kelly move from London to the seaside town of St Ives. It’s supposed to be a fresh start for the family, but things don’t go as Nicola had hoped…

It was lovely to have you on MTA, Linda. I also miss the magic of childhood. What a lovely thought. Wishing you all the best, and take care during these strange times! – Camilla

Blurb for The Runaway:

Keep your secrets close to home…

Bad things happen in threes – or so it seems to Nicola. The death of her mother-in-law coincides with husband Ed losing his job and daughter Kelly getting into trouble with the police. Time to abandon their London lifestyle and start again by the sea in far-away Cornwall.

It should be the answer to everything – a new home, a new job for Ed and a smaller, more personal school for fifteen-year-old Kelly. But the teenager hates her new life, and it doesn’t take long before events spiral out of control and the second set of bad things starts for Nicola.

Some secrets can’t be buried.

Or… can they?

Where to find the book:

At the moment it’s an ebook on Amazon, with the paperback coming later in the year. (NB – my books are all written in British English)

Connect with Linda:

Amazon Author page: viewAuthor.at/LindaHuber
Website: https://lindahuber.net/
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/authorlindahuber/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindaHuber19
Insta: https://www.instagram.com/linda.huberch/

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Meet the Author: The Third Sun – Daughter of the Phoenix by Victoria J. Price

Today we travel to the south of England to chat with Victoria J. Price about how car journeys, border collies, the West side of Highgate Cemetery, swims in the sea, The Last Unicorn, punctured tires, and Puzzlewood in the Forest come together as part of Victoria’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in the south of England, not too far from Heathrow airport and Windsor Castle. I’ve always loved writing—more specifically I’ve always loved telling stories in words and pictures and was always coming up with a story from a young age. Car journeys to visit family were often spent hastily creating a newspaper or magazine with my recent news to gift to family on arrival.

I try to make time for writing every day, amongst work and other day to day responsibilities. When I’m not writing you’ll find me walking my two border collies or making jewellery at my bench.

In which genre do you write?

I write young adult fantasy but I have lots of ideas bubbling away for other genres, including some nonfiction ideas, too.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene?

Not so much strange, more spectacular—I visited the West side of Highgate Cemetery, in London, to research the opening of The Third Sun: Daughter of the Phoenix Book One (it also crosses over with the end of The Angel’s Calling: Daughter of the Phoenix Prequel.)

The cemetery is accessible by guided tour only and features some incredible Victorian architecture and above ground catacombs. Much of the cemetery is completely overgrown with ferns and ivy and bushes and it has the most wonderful atmosphere. I’m so glad I went to experience just how breathtaking it is.

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you?

It definitely wasn’t amusing at the time but looking back it’s completely ridiculous: getting a puncture on the beach on Fraser Island, Australia, in a 4×4 that we couldn’t figure out how to release the spare wheel from.

They brief you on several things before you’re allowed to take a 4×4 across the island: 1. That you have to get off the beach before the tide comes in or you will be stranded. 2. If you see a wild dingo, get back in your vehicle, because they are dangerous. 3. Avoid the landing strip on the beach at all times. 4. Forget being able to use your mobile phone, because there’s no signal anywhere on the island.

So you can guess where this is going…we got a puncture, on the landing strip, amongst a pack of dingoes, in the pouring rain, with no phone signal, and hundreds of vehicles flying by at 80kmph because no one had time to stop and help! Safe to say…my husband saved the day!

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

Without a doubt it would be in Peter S Beagle’s The Last Unicorn (after the unicorns are freed, of course). If you’ve seen the animated film you’ll understand why—it’s beautifully painted and the unicorns are everything you’d expect from a majestic, magical creature.

Regular cartoon shows that I loved were Care Bears, the original My Little Pony and Star Bright, who I think all had cross overs at various points. They all shared a similar art style and all had a little sprinkle of magic.

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do?

An easy question! I’d be the Lady Noor. Noor is a witch from the parallel world of Ohinyan. She can fight, she can fly a glider, she can create incredible illusions, and she’s an excellent spy. I can’t wait to give Noor her own book, she deserves it.

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

I have two border collies, Jessie and Blue. They’re both very affectionate, both have very unique characters and both obsessed with toys and food. I’d ask Jessie if her little brother bugs her, I’d ask Blue if he could stop responding to “woof” and actually respond to “speak” like we’ve practiced, and I’d ask them both what their perfect day would be. Although I’m pretty certain I know: all the walks, all the food, all the toys, and all the cuddles. They’re not bad writing buddies, either!

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

Ooh, far too many to choose from. The UK is absolutely stunning. Cardigan Bay in Wales is wonderful, as is the Minack Theatre in Cornwall, Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean, Durdle Door in Dorest…we really are spoilt for choice here.

I love to swim in the sea, and Autumn evenings at sunset can sometimes be the best time to do that on the south coast – glorious sunsets, calm waters, and a quiet beach, perfect!

What are you currently working on?

Right now I’m working on book two of the Daughter of the Phoenix series. The Eternal Dusk continues Fia’s (from Earth) and Alexander’s (an angel from Ohinyan) story, and like book one is told from three points of view. Only the third POV character is different between books one and two! It’s YA fantasy, and you can expect witches, shapeshifters, elemental magic, an epic fantasy world, and lots of witchy activities in London, too.

Tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it.

The Third Sun: Daughter of the Phoenix Book One is my first published book. It’s a YA fantasy.

Thank you for featuring me!

It was wonderful having you be a part of MTA and great to learn more about you! Wishing your all the best, Victoria! – Camilla

Blurb:

The sun is dying, the windows to Earth are closing. Time is running out.

After the death of her sister, eighteen-year-old Fia Aldridge knows one thing for certain: she doesn’t belong anywhere. But then she tumbles into the parallel world of Ohinyan—a world where angels and witches walk amongst mankind.

An ancient darkness is taking advantage of the dying sun, and Ohinyan needs Fia’s help. She soon learns that her arrival is not entirely by accident and that Alexander, leader of angels, is not the guardian she thought he was.

Torn between their feelings and their duties, together they must find a way to return Fia to London before the darkness consumes her and she is trapped in Ohinyan forever.

A richly woven tale drawing on ancient myths and legends, bursting with adventure, elemental magic, angels, witches, shapeshifters and slow burn romance. Fans of Brigid Kemmerer, Laini Taylor and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials will devour The Third Sun: Daughter of the Phoenix Book One.

Where to buy:

The Third Sun universal Amazon link: https://mybook.To/TheThirdSun

More on the prequel:

The Angel’s Calling free download: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/kk08lsshrb

The Angel’s Calling free four part audio drama: https://www.buzzsprout.com/411730/3057214-the-angel-s-calling-part-1

Connect with Victoria: 

Website: https://victoriajprice.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/victoria_jprice

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/victoriajprice/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorvictoriajprice/

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Meet the Author: heckler by Jason Graff

Today we travel to Richardson, Texas to chat with Jason Graff about how bewilderment, poetry, being a cat person, talking less, and listening more are a part of Jason’s past and present life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Richardson, Texas with my very supportive wife, somewhat less supportive 4 year-old son and completely indifferent cat. I have published poetry, essays and short stories in a number of different genres in journals around the world.

Like most writers, I find people endlessly fascinating. I’ve always been interested in why people do what they do. Sometimes, inspiration comes from bewilderment at my own behaviors and reactions to situations. I believe that for the most part, any good story is partially a mystery in which the writer reveals the reasons for why characters are the way they are and by extension, tries to offer humanity some sort of explanation for our existence. I suppose that sounds kind of lofty and naïve but then, I make up things for a living, so my thinking isn’t exactly what you’d call totally clear-headed.

In which genre do you write?

I primarily write literary fiction but dabble in a bit of everything. I find genre labels limiting as an artist and really just want to tell great stories.

How many published books do you have?

I have three. Two lit-fic, heckler and Stray Our Pieces and a dark fantasy romance, In the Service of the Boyar (Kindle title The White Wolf’s Secret.)

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I started writing poems in high school when I was supposed to be doing my school work. Back then, I was writing to get the attention of the girls I had crushes on, sometimes with disastrous effects. (One girl, whom I will not name, had a boyfriend who punched me for my efforts. Everyone’s a critic was a lesson I learned early on.) So, I think I was a writer before I even thought of it as a career path. I just was one.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

I’m a cat person, so I have to go with a cat. They’re not made happy that easily and can be difficult to deal with for no apparent reason, and I think that pretty well describes my relationship to my work.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

My couch has a chaise lounge. I am perfectly happy stretching out on that with my computer propped on a lap desk.

What are you currently reading?

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson

Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?

heckler started off as a short story about a boy flipping through the pages of his family’s hotel registry and trying to guess who his father was. He traced his fingers over the names, tried to remember their faces, tried to remember if they looked like him. A generating scene that I don’t think made it as far as the second draft.

At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?

Talk less and listen more. You’re not as funny or insightful as you think are.

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

Why do you eat plastic?

Are you interested in at least trying to learn to use the toilet?

Did we know each other in a past life?

What are you currently working on?

I am working on a story about a romancing conman who gets older women to fall in love with him, then takes their jewelry. It’s told not just from his prospective but that of his current quarry, his wife and other members of his family. I saw an episode of Unsolved Mysteries about one such figure years ago and have always been kind of fascinated by the psychology that would lead to such a life.

Tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it.

heckler takes place in a rundown family hotel in a made up town somewhere in the American Rust Belt. The chapters alternate over a two year period that traces the life of the family who owns the place and a couple of the lodgers that come to stay there. Everyone in the story searches for a way to make their life their own, so the narrative draws much of its tension from the tendency people have for self-sabotage.

It was wonderful to have you on MTA, Jason. My cat, who has long ago crossed the rainbow bridge, used to eat plastic too! In addition, she ate all my house plants, which I replaced with fake plants. She ate those, too. She was interesting, to say the least. Wishing you all the best!! –Camilla

Back cover copy:

“…you’ll learn as you get older that time goes by quickly, especially for adults,” Ray Davis writes in a letter to his son that he hopes will explain why he’s been away for so long. In the two years since he last saw his father, Bruno, who once yearned to be entrusted with manning the desk of the family hotel on his own, has grown to resent every moment he’s forced oversee its empty lobby.

His mother dreams that he’ll take over the business one day, but Bruno has more immediate concerns. Adjusting to the changes his teenage body is going through is complicated by the attraction he feels to both sexes. His only escape is to the movie theater across the street, where he loses himself in the black and white world of Hollywood’s Golden Age. After being turned away from a showing of Psycho, he runs into his former tutor, Rick French. While the academic substance of those sessions largely has faded, Bruno never forgot how Rick had first awakened feelings that he’d been too young to understand. As they renew their relationship, Bruno begins to glimpse the man he can become. Though he’d like to act on his desires, he cannot help but still feel like a callow pupil in Rick’s presence. Stuck somewhere between maturity and childhood, Bruno strives to avoid the lonely future of a hotelier.

Where to find the books:

heckler https://www.unsolicitedpress.com/store/p219/hecklergraff.html

Stray Our Pieces https://www.waldorfpublishing.com/products/stray-our-pieces

In the Service of the Boyar https://www.amazon.com/Service-Boyar-Jason-Graff/dp/0692738959 aka The White Wolf’s Secret https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07BDDDQDL/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2

Connect with Jason:

Website: https://jasongraff.wordpress.com/

Facebook: Author Jason Graff

Twitter: JasonGraff1

Instagram: photograffing

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Meet the Author: Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution by Jordan Bell

Today we travel to Adelaide, Australia and chat with Jordan Bell about how being a psychologist, music, crowdfunding, walking in nature, Leonard Cohen, the art of tattooing, and Battle of the Planets come together as part of Jordan’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a psychologist by training, with a lifelong love of science, and I live in Adelaide, Australia. I love reading, music and walking in nature. When my daughter was born, I knew I wanted to make sure she had lots of books which inspired her to love science as much as I do. So as a nerdy mama I had no option but to write one! Aimed at kids 7-11 years, Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution explains the basics of this key scientific concept in a fun and engaging way.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I’ve loved writing my whole life. As a child I thought being a writer would be an amazing future career, and I used to spend a lot of time writing and illustrating little books, which I’d bind up with electrical tape. As a teenager, poetry really captured me, and I was in a small poetry circle with two other poets for several years. It wasn’t until I finished my PhD a few years ago (106,000 words!) that I really knew I could write a book. And then when I got the inspiration to write this book, I knew I had to put it out into the world. One wildly successful crowdfund later (we raised 210% of our original goal!) and it seemed like the rest of the world also agreed with me!

What does your ideal writing space look like?

My favourite place to write is in a cafe around the corner from my house – I take my laptop in and they bring me endless cups of tea while I’m tapping away. It’s a gorgeous calm space with delicious food and great local arts and crafts for sale. (Update – due to the new COVID-19 social distancing/shutdown rules, I can’t make use of this great venue at the moment! So I am mostly writing from my dining room table these days – there’s not as much tea-on-demand, but I can work in my pyjamas, so swings and roundabouts!)

What are you currently reading?

I am re-reading the Philip Pullman “His Dark Materials” trilogy as a preparation for reading the new book he’s released, The Secret Commonwealth. I forgot how much I loved it when I read it 10 years ago – it’s beautifully written. I have high hopes for the new adventure!

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

I love singing and once put on a show of Leonard Cohen songs in my hometown.

My favourite genre to read is science fiction – it comes from my love of science and my general sense of wonder about the world.

Although I am very interested in the art of tattooing, I only have one teeny tiny tattoo myself. If I was going to get something else tattooed on me, it would be the Auryn from The Neverending Story, which was my favourite book as a child.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I am the Dean at a residential college for university students, so I support students through their academic and personal challenges, to ensure they can continue to succeed at in their studies. I love my job! It’s always interesting and I really like helping people, so I get to do that a lot.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

That I’m quite persistent, and that I get more satisfaction from “having written” than from the writing itself. And that I’m quite good at explaining things to kids – which I guess is a legacy of my time as a children’s tutor. I was also really surprised at how much fun it was to work with an illustrator – Gabriel Cunnett (https://gabrielcunnettillustration.com/) did all the illustrations for the book, and he seemed to have the magical ability to reach into my brain, see what I wanted to characters to look like, and call them into existence on the page.

What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?

I really enjoy the “project” of book creation. The learning curve for writing and then self-publishing my first book was virtually straight up – but apparently that’s a space I thrive in, since I love to learn.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Oh gosh, not paying bills! And the chance to spend so much time reading, and the wonder of learning about human biology for the first time.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

Without question, it would be Battle of the Planets (the English-dubbed version of Japanese anime series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman) – I used to act out invented scenes from this with my cousins all the time. As a kid I wanted to be Princess, but today I’d probably want to be Mark, the team leader.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

I re-watched The Princess Bride – one of my own childhood favourites – with my daughter last weekend. It’s amazing how well it holds up as a film! It’s got humour, adventure, romance and a happy ending. And Cary Elwes is fantastically handsome, so there’s also that. I read the book it was based on a few years ago and honestly it’s probably even better than the movie. So I wanted to share that story with my daughter.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a follow-up to my first book, called Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Climate Change. In a similar way to the Guide to Evolution, it explains and unpacks all the science of Climate Change, from chemistry, to physics, to biology and geology, in a science adventure that is fun to read. The research load has been intense, but I’m really enjoying it!

Tell us about your most recent book.

My first book, Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution, gives kids a fun and fascinating understanding of the key concepts underlying the theory of evolution, using real science. Perfect for parents who want to inspire a love of science in children aged 7-11yrs, start a child’s science education early, or who want female role models in science for their kids.

Not just another boring bedtime story, this science adventure into the ancient past makes learning about the basics of evolution fun and engaging, and uses words and concepts that are right for kids in middle and upper primary school. For anyone new to science, Aunt Jodie’s Guides also include an easy-to-read glossary, explaining the scientific terms used in the book and how to pronounce them.

It was wonderful to have you on MTA, Jordan. This and your upcoming book sound like great fun to read. Wishing you much success! – Camilla

Book Blurb:

Join Sophie and Matt as Aunt Jodie takes you on an imagination-expanding journey back in time. Learn about evolution in two different species, millions of years apart: the Plesiads, ancient lemur-like creatures from 55 million years ago, and colour-changing Peppered Moths from the 1800s. What happens to the Plesiads when a volcano erupts? How do the moths survive when their camouflage stops working? Discover the secrets that help all creatures transform and develop when big changes happen in the world around them.

Parents, Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents: Do you know what happened after the dinosaurs died out, but before humans existed? Could you explain Darwin’s theory of evolution to your child? Parents, learn along with your kids as we explore the key contributors to evolution: inheritance, variation and selection. Not just another boring bedtime story, this science adventure into the ancient past makes learning about the basics of evolution fun and engaging, and uses words and concepts that are right for kids in middle and upper primary school. Story-based learning helps everyone remember scientific concepts. For anyone new to science, Aunt Jodie’s Guides also include an easy-to-read glossary, explaining the scientific terms used in the book, and how to pronounce them. So give a gift of knowledge to your children and set them up for a lifetime of STEM success!

Where to buy Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution:

www.gumroad.com/jordanbell

Connect with Jordan:

Follow me on Facebook for more information: www.facebook.com/AuntJodiesGuides

I’m on Twitter at @AuntJodiesGuide

And my website is www.auntjodiesguide.com

 Illustrated by Gabriel Cunnett:

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